“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!” – Muhammed Ali
I was going to title this post “A Fly On The Wall”. The problem is that when flies aren’t on a wall where do they like to hangout? The picture that immediately popped into my mind was that of a fly sitting on a steaming pile of poop or a fresh road kill. This is not the visual I’m going for. Please delete the unsanitary snapshot and replace it with the image of a lovely, striped butterfly gracefully moving its wings as it rests briefly in anticipation of the next flower it will feast upon.
As your friendly neighborhood butterfly I enjoy secretly listening to the conversations around me. This stealth reconnaissance has yielded some fascinating information I would never have discovered had I asked a direct question. I highly recommend developing this talent. This is not to say that if the conversation is of a highly personal nature I want to hear it. There are conversations that cause me to make a quick exit out the nearest door. I don’t want to know the results of your colonoscopy or your recent bout with extreme flatulence. Recently, however, I overheard a useful conversation my son was having on the phone with a friend.
Fascinating. I floated in slowly and settled myself softly on the couch. Teenagers must be approached with care, the slightest misstep causing a temper tantrum, competitive eye rolling, or the much-feared staring contest. I addressed my son.
“Honey, I need to ask you a question. Do you have a minute?”
He looked up from his iPhone, simultaneously finishing the text without looking at the touch screen. His big brown eyes watched me warily.
“Sure, mom. What’s up?”
“Well, I happened to hear you say that Facebook is a pain in the neck. Are you not using it anymore?” We are not Facebook friends.
He sits up in the chair.
“You were listening to my conversation?”
“I’m in the same room, son. I would just like to know how and why you would change how you are communicating with your friends. It’s research.”
He considered this as his phone pinged. Another text was quickly sent and I again had his attention.
“Timeline is too messy. There is too much stuff scrolling through the home feed and on a person’s wall for a quick communication between friends. Twitter is better than Facebook for reaching a group of people, direct texting is the best way for one on one messages. It used to be that you could easily see what people were doing on their Facebook wall. Not anymore. Now there are so many boxes. You have to really manage it. Which is ok, but it is no longer good for a lot of communication.”
I thanked him and decided to roll this information around in my head for a while.
(Before I go any further I would like to mention that a Facebook Timeline tutorial was written here at Indies Unlimited in a previous post by contributing author KD Rush. You can read that here. There are also a number of Twitter posts you should check out. But don’t go away yet.)
Have you spent time on your Facebook wall recently? I am having some issues with the layout on my book page, and I need to refocus on this important task. It looks a bit messy and I need to make it flow better. While I like the cover across the front I agree with my son that the wall is now separated into too many boxes. My question is, why did Mark Zuckerberg do this?
It’s simple. Facebook is now not only a site where you can post a picture of your child pooping on the potty; it has become a viable business tool. A somewhat mismanaged and misunderstood business tool from what I can see. The home stream is overrun with solicitations. The Facebook designers even managed to squeeze in a right side bar for targeted advertising. Mr. Zuckerberg now knows more about you than the FBI.
Did he see this future business potential when he started working on a dating site at Harvard? It is difficult to say. There are visionaries in many endeavors who can see into the future: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Pablo Picasso, Estee Lauder and Coco Chanel. We think we have creative control over our decisions, but this is often not the case. Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly beautifully illustrates one of my favorite examples of this visionary foresight in the soliloquy in the movie, “The Devil Wears Prada.” Andy, one of Miranda’s executive assistants, refers to fashion as “this stuff”. Miranda condescends to Andy, rips her a new one, and bitingly explains how the color of her sweater was “chosen for her” by a fashion designer a decade before. The lesson in fashion history is not lost on Andy.
Where am I, a floating neighborhood butterfly, going with this post? I will alight here and deliver a small sting. You cannot be all things to all people. Neither can Mr. Zuckerberg. Most importantly, neither can your book.
I realize that I’m new at this writing gig. I am, however, a research junkie, and every day I devote a certain amount of time to what I call my writer’s education. One of the things I find illuminating is reading the blogs of successful authors. I’ve already discussed my impressions and suggestions on blogs in a previous post here at Indies Unlimited. There is another thing that stands out clearly among the most successful authors. They have realized that they must pick a target audience, and hone their personal brand and product to please this target audience. They know they cannot be all things to all people, and neither can their book.
When I was enrolled in a techno-geek seven-week sales school we were given a group exercise. We were to pretend we were real estate agents listing a home on a beach in Malibu. We had to pick from a list of possible benefits to hone our sales strategy. We were beaten over the head with the difference between a tactic and a strategy. The instructor required us to choose one sales attribute, only one, and we had to market the Malibu home using this choice.
What is my point? My point is that you have to hold firm, at least for a reasonable amount of time, in your marketing efforts. Once you have identified your readers and chosen the core strategy of branding you and your work, focus all your efforts on this targeted market. Keep your message clear and stay with your brand. Don’t be distracted by the white noise around you.
Mr. Zuckerberg can do whatever he wants with Facebook. He can buy Instagram because it is cool. But, even he can’t make Facebook all things to all people. I’m not quite sure if he’s lost his way, if he is trying to cram “ten pounds of poop in a five pound bag”. We as Indie authors don’t have this power. We need to focus our efforts on writing the best book we can, and continue to promote our brand with a clear vision to sell our product. A little bit of luck never hurts, either.
“A brand is really branded when there is quality, uniqueness and style.” – Gia On The Move
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L. A. Lewandowski is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and author of the novel, Born To Die – The Montauk Murders. For more information, please see the IU Bio Page and her blog:cultureandcuisineclub.com.